For those of us in the UK, undoubtedly one of the most irritating ads on telly at the moment is one for a car insurance comparison website, called CompareTheMarket.com It's fronted by a meerkat with a Russian accent, who complains about people getting confused with his site, CompareTheMeerkat.com.
"Meerkat, market, they are different things, no? Simples."
But it's a really clever use of social media tools - now our little Russian meerkat front man (who is called Aleksandr Orlov) now has his own Facebook page, (with >250K fans!) and is happily Twittering away. In broken English. To 6,880 followers, all of whom get a personal message when they join, and who appear to be in avid conversation with him on a fairly constant basis...
"Have a very happy birthday! Maybe celebrate with a piece of cake or a new cravat?"
...is a good example of his work - the tone and engagement with his followers is really spot on, and a good learning experience for anyone who want's to really get involved in this space, particularly on a b2c brand like this.
The agency behind this is VCCP, digital strategy by Amelia Torode, and details of their campaign can be found on their site here.
- use appropriate channels. Facebook and Twitter are great in a situation like this - they create an interaction that invites people into the brand and creates loyalty (not easy in the overcrammed somewhat scuzzy world of car insurance comparison sites!)
- use appropriate tone of voice. Anthropomorphosising car insurance into a Russian meerkat (now there's a sentence I'd never thought I would write!) allows soft selling of the product into a warm, receptive audience. Compare that with the Churchill or Admiral insurance products in the UK where they have tried something similar and just ended up being irritating!
- update your content as appropriate. There are only 2 TV ads at the moment - yet the Twitter channel gets attention daily, as does the Facebook page, to keep the audience engaged. Facebook seems to be updating itself at the moment, with fan videos and over 700 photos uploaded.
- don't be afraid to be a bit weird, and take risks. Facebook and Twitter can be risky, but your audience is much more forgiving - as with many social media environments they appreciate that it's a bit more informal, and you can get away with a lot more than you might otherwise do on your product/corporate website.